Navratri Fasting: Benefits and Significance
Navratri, as the name suggests is a festival that lasts for nine nights. It is most popular in the northern and western parts of India. In 2020, Navratri will commence on 17th October and end on 25th October.
Navratri is celebrated in worship of the nine avatars of the Goddess Durga. It concludes with Dussehra, a celebration of the victory of Lord Rama over Ravana, symbolizing the victory of good over evil. It is said that Lord Rama prayed to the Goddess Durga before going into battle with Ravana.
Importance of Fasting During Navratri
Fasting helps to cleanse the body and calm the mind, allowing us to turn our thoughts inward and thereby deepen our connection with the divine. It is also used as a means to show devotion. It is believed that the Goddess Durga herself passed on the instructions for fasting to one of her devotees.
Rules of Navratri Fasting
Grains like wheat and rice must be avoided, but substitutes like kuttu ka atta, rajgira ka atta and sabudana can be a part of the Navratri diet plan. Fruit and dairy are encouraged, and some people stick to a diet consisting of only these foods during this time. While table salt is avoided, sendha namak (rock salt) is permitted. Further, we are also required to refrain from meat, fish, eggs, onions, garlic, lentils, legumes, refined oils and seed-based oils.
Navratri Fasting Benefits
The benefits of fasting are not only grounded in religion, but in science too. It has been shown that intermittent fasting can help reduce inflammation in healthy adults. Fasting has also been shown to improve heart health by decreasing bad cholesterol, blood pressure and blood triglycerides. Animal studies have also suggested that fasting can improve cognitive functioning and have a protective effect on the brain. Fasting has also been proven to aid weight loss and boost metabolism. As this fast involves higher intake of fruits, vegetables and dairy, it is beneficial to the body in terms of good health.
Healthy Fasting Tips
While fasting has many benefits to offer, an improperly managed fast can have adverse health effects. Here are some tips to help you have a healthy fast this festive season.
1. If you are elderly, pregnant or unwell, it is best to refrain from fasting altogether.
2. Make sure you stay hydrated throughout the day, by keeping a water bottle on hand. While colas and other soft drinks are not advisable, fresh fruit and vegetables juices made with a bit of Tata Rock Salt can be part of the Navratri diet plan as it contains trace minerals along with sodium.
3. Try to avoid complete fasting for long durations of time, especially if you are engaging in physical work. Instead, have small and frequent snacks like fresh or dry fruit, or yogurt to make sure you stay energized through the day.
4. During fasts, avoid intake of fried foods.
5. Changes in your diet can make you feel tired. Make sure you get adequate rest during this period of fasting and celebration.
6. If you have diabetes or any other medical conditions, you should check with your doctor before trying to fast.
Here’s to a happy and healthy Navratri!
- Intermittent fasting during Ramadan attenuates proinflammatory cytokines and immune cells in healthy subjects [NCBI]
- Improvements in coronary heart disease risk indicators by alternate-day fasting involve adipose tissue modulations [NCBI]
- The effects of three-week fasting diet on blood pressure, lipid profile and glucoregulation in extremely obese patients [NCBI]
- Dietary restriction increases the number of newly generated neural cells, and induces BDNF expression, in the dentate gyrus of rats [NCBI]
- Neuroprotective role of intermittent fasting in senescence-accelerated mice P8 (SAMP8) [NCBI]
- Resting energy expenditure in short-term starvation is increased as a result of an increase in serum norepinephrine [NCBI]
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